Multigenerational living pioneer

My family and I have decided that we are going to purchase my parents’ home and build them an addition to live in, while we will take over the main house. So far, the only difficulties we have encountered are things we just did not expect.

Hurdle #1: getting a mortgage for construction. Our circumstances are a bit unusual, in that I am the breadwinner in the family and my husband is the stay-at-home parent. Nevertheless, our finances and credit history are rock-solid. So, I never would have guessed that our biggest hurdle to getting a mortgage would be revealed when a banker asked me pointedly, “Where is the husband in all of this?” Meaning, of course, that he could not figure out why I was the one co-signing a mortgage application with my parents, why my husband has no income to report, and how it is possible that I could be the parent to move to a new city in advance of my family. Maybe this banker stayed up too late watching a marathon of Mad Men and forgot what year this is.

Hurdle #2: everyone thinks that the only reason we could possibly have for making this choice would be a crisis of some sort, whether health- or job-related. This is just not so, at least not for us. Aren’t there any other families out there who have made this choice because it was just the best choice for the family, for long-term finances, and to make a plan for how to care for aging parents in years to come? Aren’t there any sources of advice on, say, how to share a kitchen with your parents? In all fairness, I have found a small handful of references to this kind of information, but to say they are limited in number would be an understatement.

I’m extremely glad we’ve made this choice, but I just did not realize that we would be considered “pioneers.” I don’t really have any desire to be a pioneer in this area! Nonetheless, we will tread on without fear, with love in our hearts, and hoping that we make good decisions on our family pioneer trek.


Perfection is a scam artist

Perfect. The word has a seductive ring to it. Its very nature implies oh-so-smoothly that you can be so much better, so much more, than you are right now. To me, that sounds oddly like that old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Scam artists profit by preying on our needs (“turn $100 into $100,000 – it’s easy!”) and innermost hopes and dreams (“look like a supermodel – fast – if you just take this pill!“). Perfection is just a concept, but it works in the same insidious and harmful manner.

Even worse, perfection demands that you must be something else entirely different from who you are right now, a new and improved version of yourself. And in doing so, it robs us of enjoying our experience of being human. In our quests to throw the perfect birthday party, create the perfect wedding proposal experience, write a perfect paper, or manage a perfect project, we lose sight of the beauty of our shared humanity. Humans, by definition, cannot be perfect. Perfection is reserved solely for the Divine, however you chose to define it.

Humans learn and grow by making mistakes. We grow when we make poor choices, apologize, learn to make better judgment calls, and make a better choice next time. My father is fond of repeating another old saying, “The person who never made a mistake never learned anything.” I want to spend my time with people who make mistakes! People who forgive me when I make mistakes. People who can assess a situation and know when good enough is simply enough, when done enough is really enough. People who spend their time caring about me and my family and their communities, instead of who spend their time fussing and fretting and trying to achieve the impossible perfection.

I promised myself a long time ago that I would dump the idea of perfection. I want to enjoy my journey to live to be 100 years old, and I fully intend to make mistakes along the way. Hopefully I will learn from my mistakes, but mainly I just want to enjoy every minute on this earth as a human being, and to love the people around me so much that they aren’t afraid of making mistakes, either.

Tough news

I just learned that a dear friend of mine has breast cancer, and it’s very serious. She found out only yesterday and is already scheduled for a mastectomy (possibly double) next week. She is only a few years older than me.

This is a reminder to me of the importance of my promise to cherish the time I have with my loved ones. I want to live to be 100, but only if I can do it with unconditional love filling my heart and my soul.

Other people’s annoying habits

I have been living with my parents for a few months, moving in advance of my family, who will be joining me in another few months. To say that it’s been a bit of a shock living in my childhood home – and with my parents – would be somewhat of an understatement.

What I have found to be both frustrating and amusing is how much my parents’ habits are annoying me. I know from past experience that this is likely because their habits are revealing something about me that I would rather not admit. Example 1: clutter (who me? have a tendency to accumulate clutter? never!). Example 2: indulge in sugar (whistling and avoiding eyes, la la la la la…).

Readily, I can admit that these “faults” also tend to be my faults. What’s much harder, though, is working on those tendencies in myself. Without expecting that working on myself will set any kind of an example, or rub off on them, or make me better than they because I’m working on my faults!

Because, really, who am I to judge? If I want to work on my own “faults” for my own benefit, then good for me. If their habits are bothering me to a point where it is affecting my ability to live in the house, then I must address it with them. Otherwise, I need to just leave them alone about it. And always remember that these issues are MY issues.

My parents are wonderful, kind, generous and love me very much. How lucky am I? Who could ask for more than that?

Fear is an enemy

So many beloved older folks around me have given in to fear in their so-called “golden” years: fear of change, fear of falling, fear of financial hardship, fear of loneliness… This is, upon observation, a most distressing way to approach life.

Truly, life as we age is not easy. But then, life is not easy at any age. That may sound contrite. However, we know so much about the human body and the human mind now that we can choose to NOT be afraid.

I choose to not be afraid. This will probably become more difficult for me over the years because I am naturally cautious. So for me, I must always remember to challenge myself, laugh at myself when I become entrenched in routines, take risks occasionally (and especially when I get anxious about life).

Above all I must choose to live with love and peace and fun in my heart. I can choose this path, and I am choosing this path.